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Chooks-to-Go Player of the Week Bohdana Anisova leads Sta. Lucia’s strong push

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After a string of misfortunes, the Sta. Lucia Lady Realtors bounced back with a pair of crucial victories to hammer out a strong finish in the Chooks to Go-Philippine Superliga Grand Prix.

And one player should be credited for this resurgence – Bohdana Anisova.

With Anisova spewing fire at the attack zone, the Lady Realtors were unstoppable, as they pulled off thrilling victories over the Cocolife Asset Managers and Generika-Ayala Lifesavers to avoid an eighth-place finish.

A well-known competitor in the European circuit, the Ukrainian torched the Asset Managers for 29 kills, four aces, and two blocks for a game-high 35 points as the Lady Realtors essayed a masterful 23-25, 22-25, 25-12, 25-23, 15-7 victory.

She then picked up where she left off two days later, when she knocked down 23 kills for a 25-point effort to lead the Lady Realtors to a 25-27, 25-18, 25-17, 26-24 win over the Lifesavers in their final match of the eliminations.

Her impressive performances were enough for the PSL Press Corps to name her as its third Chooks to Go-Player of the Week.

She edged Foton’s electrifying import Sara Klisura and Cignal’s middle blocker Alexis Matthews for the weekly honor given by the group of sportswriters and photographers from various broadsheets, tabloids, and online publications covering the league.

Sta. Lucia head coach Jerry Yee admitted that Anisova was the engine that kept them running in their back-to-back victories.

“We’re glad that Bodhana stepped up big time,” said Yee, whose wards booked a quarterfinal duel with Foton after finishing the eliminations at sixth place, with a 3-5 win-loss card. “Right now, our morale is high because of our strong finish. But we can’t celebrate yet. It’s still a long way to go.

“We just have to continue working hard and hope for the best.”

Yee added that while Anisova will play a very crucial role in their sudden-death encounter with the Tornadoes, everybody still has to step up for them to pull off an earth-shaking upset.

“Winning in the quarterfinals must be a collective effort from everybody. We just have to prepare hard and hope for the best.”

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Fighting Maroons beg off from D-League commitments

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Studies first

With the University of the Philippines in the midst of its second semester of their academic calendar when the PBA D-League Aspirants’ Cup begins, Fighting Maroons head coach Bo Perasol asked his players if they could forego of their basketball commitments for the mean time to focus on their studies.

“They will have a really hard time passing, and even attending, their subjects if they’re going to miss classes because of the practices and games,” the incoming third-year UP Men’s Basketball team mentor shared.

Tuesday afternoon, sophomore Javi Gomez de Liano was drafted by the Wangs-Letran Couriers while skipper Paul Desiderio and junior Diego Dario are currently free agents in the league. Desiderio last played for the Cafe France-CEU Bakers during the 2016 Aspirants’ Cup while Dario joined the AMA Online Education Titans as well.

Being a former student-athlete himself, Perasol knows how important the second semester is, especially for eligibility for the 81st season of the UAAP.

“The second semester is very important in their eligibility for the next season,” Perasol added.

With a loaded line-up for the upcoming UAAP season, the Fighting Maroons can’t afford any mishaps.

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Jeff Napa, Letran try to change Wangs Basketball’s fortunes

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For the first time since joining the PBA D-League, the Wangs Basketball Couriers will be bannered by a collegiate team as they have partnered up with the Colegio de San Juan de Letran Knights.

Gone are the days that the team is stacked with PBA aspirants and cagers trying to make it back to the big league. Donning the Wangs jersey this time around are the likes of Bong Quinto, JP Calvo, Jerrick Balanza, Jeo Ambohot, Bonbon Batiller, Fran Yu, Christian Fajarito, and Larry Muyang.

With the chance of being able to compete once again in the second league, incoming third-year Letran head coach Jeff Napa wants to repay the trust of Wangs founder Alex Wang by being competitive this season.

“Si boss Alex (Wang) wala naman sinasabi sa akin na target pero gusto ko siyempre masuklian ang kabutihan niya sa amin. Gusto lang niya maging competitive yung team namin.

“Sa Letran naman, kailangan naman magka-experience in preparation for next season. Focus namin yung bonding namin para maging maganda yung season namin,” Napa said.

Joining the Letran core are their drafted players, headlined by his former players in National University — Michael Pate and Hubert Cani. Even with his familiarity with the two upstarts, Napa wants the two to earn their stripes with the team.

“Sana maging maganda yung response nila sa sistema namin,” the youthful mentor said. “Hindi naman porke’t naging player ko sila e magkaka-minutes na sila. Nakadepende pa rin sa system namin kung ano ang gusto namin mangyari.”

Besides the two, he also picked up UST Growling Tiger Henric Caunan, UP Fighting Maroon Javi Gomez de Liano, and Mapua Cardinal Christian Bunag.

Despite a deep team, the National University lifer is not guaranteeing anything, only saying that they will give a good fight.

“Okay naman. Satisfied naman ako sa dinraft namin. We’ll see kung anong mangyayari pero at least nakikita ko yung mga projection sa team namin,” Napa shared.

“This Aspirants’ Cup, magiging maganda ang labanan.”

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AMA head coach likens top pick Owen Graham to Arwind Santos

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The AMA Online Education Titans got the luxury of picking first in the PBA D-League Draft for the second straight year. But this time though, they picked a no-namer in Owen Graham — a move deemed unusual considering the amount of proven talents in the pool.

“Si Owen Graham kasi, he played for me for almost one year na,” justified AMA head coach Mark Herrera of his decision. “He’s a school-based player, he stands at six-foot-fpir, Fil-Canadian siya. He can play the 2, 3, 4, and 5 spots.

“Mabilis siya at all-around player siya. Para siyang si Arwind Santos.”

What inclined Herrera to pick Graham was his familiarity with his system as he has utilized the swingman in the collegiate level”

“Ang advantage lang niya, kabisado ko na ‘yung bata, tsaka alam natin ‘yung kakayahan niya going to the D-League,” he added. “Rookie siya sa D-League pero he played for me sa NAASCU na, sa Fr. Martin and NCRAA.

“So medyo marunong na ‘yung bata.”

AMA’s choice for the first pick maybe far from what they did last year, when they nabbed proven talent Jeron Teng. But for Herrera, he likes what the team did in the 2017 proceedings as they have addressed their needs.

Aside from Graham, the Titans floor generals Philip Manalang and Levi dela Cruz, and bigs such as Michael Canete, Barkley Eboña and Richard Escoto.

“Yung mga draftees namin kung makikita niyo, more on mga 5 and 4 ang kinukuha namin, kasi nga ‘yung mga players namin before, magka-comeback din naman eh, tulad nila [Mario] Bonleon, sila [Andre] Paras,” Herrera explained.

“So ang kulang ko lang talaga ang kinuha ko, tsaka isang point guard (Philip Manalang).”

With their draft moves, Herrera is now full of optimism that the Titans can now compete with the other 12 teams in the league. Not just to compete though, as he now aims for the school-based squad to make it into the semifinals.

“Every conference naman talaga, pumapasok si AMA sa quarters, last conference lang hindi,” Herrera said.

“So this time around, ang target namin, sana umabot kami ng semis going to the championship.”

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Fil-Canadian Owen Graham selected as top overall pick in D-League draft

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Little-known Filipino-Canadian forward Owen Graham was picked as the first overall pick in the 2017 PBA D-League Draft by the AMA Online Education Titans, Tuesday afternoon at the PBA Cafe in Pasig City.

Graham is 25 years old and stands at 6-foot-4.

School-based squads Jose Rizal University Heavy Bombers, University of Perpetual Help System DALTA Altas, and Akari-Adamson University Soaring Falcons opted to pass on all their picks, electing to field players from their own schools.

Wangs Basketball-Letran selected Jerrick Balanza as the second overall pick followed by Allen Marquez (EAC-Batangas), Keanu Caballero (CEU Scorpions), CJ Perez (Zark’s-Lyceum), Mohammed Pare (Gamboa Coffee-St. Clare), Kyle Toth (Marinerong Pilipino), RK Ilagan (Che’Lu-San Sebastian), Jose Romeo Bellosillo (Mila’s Lechon), and Kendrix Belgica (Go for Gold-CSB Blazers).

Other notable picks are Arellano Chief Michael Canete (Round 2, 1st) and Levi dela Cruz (R15, 1st), FEU Tamaraw Richard Escoto (R3, 1st) and Barkley Ebona (R4, 1st), and UE Red Warrior Philip Manalang (R12, 1st) to AMA; Alvin Pasaol (R2, 8th), Chester Saldua (R3, 8th), Abu Tratter (R4, 8th), and Vince Tolentino (R5, 8th) to Marinerong Pilipino; FEU Tamaraw Arvin Tolentino (R7, 9th) and former UP Fighting Maroon Rob Ricafort (R6, 9th) to Che’Lu-San Sebastian; and UP Fighting Maroon Javi Gomez de Liano (R10, 2nd), former NU Bulldog Michael Pate (R11, 2nd), FEU Tamaraw Hubert Cani (R13, 2nd), and Mapua Cardinal Christian Bunag (R14, 2nd) to Wang’s-Letran.

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